Notable Releases of the Week (3/5)
It's been a big week in the music world, with announcements of hugely anticipated albums by Godspeed You! Black Emperor (which you can pre-order in the BV shop), Japanese Breakfast (ditto), and St. Vincent. It continues to feel like 2021 is gonna be a great year for music.
To rewind a bit for some older music, it was basically Bad Brains Week at BrooklynVegan. We did an extensive interview with Darryl Jenifer about the band's classic '80s albums/era, and we also retrospectively reviewed the self-titled LP. Bad Brains are in the midst of reissuing much of their catalog, and you can pick up some of those records on some very cool-looking limited splatter vinyl in our store.
We also lost a major music legend this week, Bunny Wailer. He was the last surviving Wailer (after Bob Marley and Peter Tosh) and led a great solo career too. Revisit Blackheart Man or Protest or one of his many other classics this weekend in his honor.
As for this week's new albums, I highlight eight below and here are several honorable mentions: Kings of Leon, Adult Mom, IAN SWEET, Bernice, Jane Weaver, Krallice, YUNGMORPHEUS, YBN Almighty Jay, Molly Brazy, 4Hunnid, Painted Shrines (Woods, Skygreen Leopards), Jimbo Mathus & Andrew Bird, Alex Bleeker, AZITA, POSTDATA (Wintersleep), The Mimes (Ogikubo Station, Mixtapes, Vacation), Mother of Mars (The Rapture), Nightfall, Visionist, Chordata, Barbarossa, Field Works: Cedars (ft. Marisa Anderson, H.C. McEntire & more), the Billy Nomates EP, the Juliet Quick EP, the Biitchseat EP, the Human EP, the SOM EP, the JAHMED EP, the Drake EP, and the glass beach remix album (ft. Bartees Strange, Pinkshift, Dogleg, backxwash, Nnamdi, Skatune Network, floral tattoo & more).
Today is also a Bandcamp fundraiser and we also posted a roundup of Bandcamp exclusives. As always, the embeds in this post are Bandcamp when applicable.
Read on for my picks. What's your favorite release of the week?
Jaz Elise - The Golden Hour EP
In.Digg.Nation Collective/Six Course Music/RCA
Protoje's In.Digg.Nation Collective just keeps killing it. They had an amazing 2020 with three of the year's best reggae albums (Protoje's own In Search of Lost Time and the Lila Iké and Sevana EPs), and now they're kicking off 2021 with the genuinely awesome debut EP by new signee Jaz Elise. Jaz marked her label debut last year with a new remix of her 2019 single "Fresh & Clean," and as addictive as that song is, it couldn't prepare you for the musical diversity of The Golden Hour. The EP's seven songs (including "Fresh & Clean") are aided by an all-star cast of forward-thinking Jamaican music producers (and In.Digg.Nation regulars), including Protoje, IzyBeats, J.L.L., Iotosh, Ziah, and Natural High, and they provide a constantly-shapeshifting backdrop for Jaz's stunning pipes, which are as powerful as they are airy. The EP is bookedended by its two most unique tracks -- the skittering, futuristic electronic pop of "I'm A Vibe" and the Latin jazz-tinged delicacy of "Breathe" -- and in between, it sways back and forth between classic reggae, modern hip hop/R&B, and psychedelia. Like last year's Lila Iké and Sevana EPs, this one really makes the most of its short running time, offering up more variety than plenty of full-length albums, and Jaz really makes sure each song is strong enough to have been the single. The Golden Hour is a hell of an introduction for Jaz Elise, and it's a prime example of how much innovation has been happening within reggae recently.
Regional Justice Center - Crime and Punishment
Closed Casket Acitvities
The buzz for Regional Justice Center has been building over the past few years, and with their second full-length and first for Closed Casket Activities, it's about to explode. There's a reason why one reviewer recently called them "modern hardcore's most compelling band" and why another said "At the moment, this [album] is resting atop the hill… awaiting contenders. Essential and fucking tremendous." Crime and Punishment really might turn out to be one of the year's very best hardcore records. Like past releases, it pulls from a mix of hardcore, powerviolence, grindcore, and other metal/punk hybrids, and while Crime and Punishment is as raw and grimy as anything this band has ever put out, it feels a little more focused and accessible too. Maybe that's due to producer Taylor Young pushing main RJC member Ian Shelton to "find even more dynamics in the songs," or maybe it's due to this album's much-publicized Beatles influence. It never actually sounds like The Beatles, but it makes sense to learn that Ian looks outside of hardcore and takes influence from a band where literally every song is memorable. He also mentions that the song cycle on side B of Abbey Road was specifically an influence, and you can kinda hear that on Crime and Punishment too. Only one of these 10 songs reaches the two-minute mark, and the whole thing blurs together as one greater whole. It's also worth noting that this is frequently a personal and introspective album, and even if you can't always understand what Ian is shouting, you can always feel the very tangible emotion.
Tigers Jaw - I Won't Care How You Remember Me
Tigers Jaw are back with their sixth album, though it marks a handful of firsts. It's their first for veteran punk label Hopeless Records, and their first since touring members Teddy Roberts (drums) and Colin Gorman (bass) became permanent members, and the new four-piece lineup proves to have a lot of chemistry. It's also one of the best albums in their already-great career, and you can read my full review of it -- alongside a track-by-track breakdown by the band themselves -- here.
Fruit Bats - The Pet Parade
Last year, Fruit Bats leader Eric D. Johnson, prolific musician/producer Josh Kaufman, and Hadestown creator Anaïs Mitchell teamed up as the indie-folk supergroup Bonny Light Horseman and released one of the best albums of the year. The trio proved to have a ton of chemistry on that album, and now 2/3 of the band have brought that same chemistry to the new Fruit Bats album, which Josh Kaufman produced. A lot of the material on the Bonny Light Horseman album came from centuries-old folk songs, while Fruit Bats' new album is all original songs, but much of that same Bonny Light Horseman magic was captured on this album too. The overall vibe of The Pet Parade actually sounds more like Bonny Light Horseman than it sounds like Fruit Bats' indie classic Mouthfuls, or even Fruit Bats' last album. Eric uses the same high, lonesome, and airy vocal style that he brought to BLH, and the acoustic guitars have that same warm, spacious vibe of the Bonny Light Horseman album. He and Josh Kaufman have both made a lot of great music apart, but together, they've really crafted a unique, super appealing sound and it's some of the best music of Eric D. Johnson's career.
Thirdface - Do It With A Smile
Exploding In Sound
Exploding In Sound Records has gotten its fair share of comparisons to Dischord, as the label's first wave of bands recalled the off-kilter post-hardcore of Dischord's mid-'90s era (Speedy Ortiz, Two Inch Astronaut, Grass Is Green, Pile, etc), but it looks like they're operating on the opposite timeline. They started with those bands, and now a decade into the label's existence, they've finally signed their first straight-up hardcore band! And the band in question is a seriously killer hardcore band: Nashville's Thirdface. Do It With A Smile is their first full-length, following a demo and some singles dating back to 2018, and it features re-recordings of some of their earlier songs, and you can tell from listening that this is an album that's been in the works for a while. It's much tighter than anything they'd released prior, and these songs feel like they've been perfected by Thirdface playing them over and over. It's a ruthless-sounding record, and though I did call it "straight-up hardcore," it's not without its genre-defying embellishments. Drummer Shibby Poole also plays in the Relapse-signed sludge/crust/grind band Yautja, so it shouldn't be surprising that they've got a grindy edge at times, and they also work in noisy, Bleach-y freakouts, some My War-style proto-sludge, atmospheric interludes, and more. They make one hell of a racket, and topping it all of is vocalist Kathryn Edwards, whose vicious screams take on racism, sexism, and other injustices that exist within the system as well as within our own communities. Thirdface have no time for any of it, and by the sound of these songs, they've got nothing but venom for anyone who gets in their way.
Denzel Curry & Kenny Beats - UNLOCKED 1.5
Last year, the great Florida rapper Denzel Curry teamed with the great punk-inspired rap producer Kenny Beats for the collaborative mini-album UNLOCKED, which led to us including Denzel on a best-of-the-year list for the third year in a row. Now, he and Kenny have followed it with a semi-sequel, UNLOCKED 1.5. It's technically a remix album, but it's not your average remix album. Almost every track was given a pretty drastic makeover by an extremely impressive cast of musicians/producers -- including Robert Glasper, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Charlie Heat, Sango, and Jay Versace -- and genuinely great new verses were added by Joey Bada$$, Benny the Butcher, Smino, Arlo Parks, and Kenny Mason. The songs are still recognizable as the UNLOCKED songs, but this shows them in a totally different light. It's a worthy companion to an already-great album, and truly adds something new.
Worn - Human Work
From Within Records
It's a very good week for hardcore, with not just those Regional Justice Center and Thirdface albums, but also Wilkes-Barre band Worn's gnarly, heavy, purposeful new LP, which you can read much more about here.
Arab Strap - As Days Get Dark
Scottish indie vets Arab Strap's first album in over 15 years is Bill's album of the week, and I agree with him that it sounds like the duo picked up right where they left off. It's a great comeback, and you can read much more about it in Bill's Indie Basement.
Looking for more recent releases? Browse the Notable Releases archive or keep scrolling down for previous weeks.
For even more metal, browse the 'Upcoming Releases' each week on Invisible Oranges.
And check out what's new in our shop.